Sometimes a patient tells me she had only a salad for dinner. Or, even more puzzling: A green smoothie.
I could never do that. I’m tired at the end of the day. I’m hungry. I need a substantial dinner such as roast chicken with potatoes, vegetables, and butter. I honestly cannot imagine sitting down to just a cold green salad.
I don’t think I’m different from other women. Women get hungry. Women need food.
Hunger is healthy and a good thing (even for women)
I’m disturbed by how our culture portrays dieting and low appetite as a desirable trait in a woman. When a man has a hearty appetite, it’s a sign of virility and strength. Yet, when a woman has a hearty appetite, it’s a character flaw. We hear things like: “She eats like a bird,” and that’s supposed to be a good thing. I reject that. Hunger is normal, natural, and healthy—even for a woman!
Women need all macronutrients (even starch)
A roast chicken dinner is just one idea. You could also have fish and rice, lamb and sweet potato, or any number of yummy combinations. The important thing is that you eat all three macronutrients: Protein, fat, and starch. You need them for satiety, and you need them for other jobs. For example, protein preserves glandular tissue and immune function. Fat is the precursor to make hormones. Finally, starch feeds healthy intestinal bacteria, activates thyroid hormone, and promotes relaxation and sleep. Starch is also essential for maintaining regular periods.
But wait: Didn’t you read somewhere that you shouldn’t eat potatoes? I invite you to forget that. Seriously. The carbs that are bad for health are sugar (because it causes insulin resistance) and wheat (because it causes inflammation for some people). Other starches such as rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes are good for hormones. For more on the topic of healthy starch, please see my posts: Sugar Is the King Carb and Gentle Carbs.
Your hormones need dinner
Why dinner? Two reasons. 1) Because it will calm and soothe you at the end of the day. 2) Because that is probably when you are most hungry. If you don’t fill up with dinner, you may end up snacking later in the evening, and then feel ashamed of your “binge” or “lack of willpower”. It’s not a binge or a lack of willpower. You were simply hungry because you didn’t get enough to eat earlier.
You might be able to skip breakfast
If you are overweight or suffer insulin resistance, then you might want to try some gentle intermittent fasting. Do it in the morning.
There are a couple of easy methods:
- 8-hour eating window: Eat only between the hours of 10 am – 6 pm, or 11 am – 7 pm.
- Skip breakfast on two or three non-consecutive days per week. That means have your dinner, and then only water, tea, or coffee until a late breakfast or lunch the next day.
If you’re someone who is not hungry for breakfast anyway, this method should feel good. Yes, you will naturally eat more at your later meals, but that is part of the method.
If you are too hungry to skip breakfast, don’t attempt it. Your decision to skip breakfast or not comes down to this simple rule:
If you’re hungry for breakfast, eat breakfast. If you’re not, then skip it.
Restaurant meals contain too much sugar and vegetable oi and are not as healthy as home-cooked meals. You really do need to cook at home, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Pop a whole chicken and potatoes into the oven. Boil some rice and fry some fish. Steam some broccoli to have on the side. If you live with someone (spouse or roommate), then ask him or her to share the cooking. If you live alone, then make time to pre-prepare meals, and freeze them.
Trust your hunger
Think of your hunger as something good. Something healthy. Explore your hunger by fully enjoying your meals, and by eating more if you feel like it. and not feeling guilty about it. As long as you stick to healthy, whole foods, you will be fine.
High-dose fructose (dates, agave, honey) messes with the appetite centres in your brain, and will make you eat more overall. Best to just avoid sugar altogether. You can have a couple of pieces of whole fruit, or you can have dark chocolate (two squares of 85% cocoa chocolate contain only 1.3 grams fructose).
What are your thoughts on dinner? Please join the conversation below.
Yours in health,